After winning the opening face-off of overtime, Maryland men’s lacrosse looked for the dagger.
That game-winner didn’t happen immediately. Virginia’s defense mauled the Terps’ offense, and the Cavaliers secured the possession after ten-second scrum.
Virginia’s offense then pushed the pace, but the Terps had a brick wall in the cage in the form of Brian Ruppel. He masterfully blocked three consecutive Virginia shots, somehow keeping the game afloat for the Terps.
“We talked about ‘Hey we’ve been here before, let’s just make the next play and just settle down,’” coach John Tillman said.
Maryland took over on the other end of the field, and the ball found Daniel Kelly.
The junior fired a shot past Matthew Nunes in the cage for the Cavaliers, and the No. 4 Terps stormed Klockner Stadium as they defeated the previously unbeaten No. 1 Virginia, 14-13, in an overtime thriller.
The Terps looked as good as they had at any point this season early on against the top-ranked team in the country.
Maryland’s top-two scorers entering the day — attackers Kelly and Daniel Maltz — both struck within the first four minutes of the game. Redshirt senior midfielder Jack Brennan cashed in shortly after, giving the Terps a 3-0 lead at the 9:12 mark of the first quarter.
But what ensued was a 6-0 Virginia scoring run in a 17-minute span to flip the game on its head, with the Cavaliers now up 6-3 at the 5:43 mark of the second quarter.
[Maryland men’s lacrosse set for another high-profile bout against Virginia]
Sophomore attacker Eric Spanos finally ended that run at the 2:41 mark with his fifth goal of the season, halting Virginia’s momentum momentarily.
Virginia used a 5-1 second quarter advantage to enter halftime up 6-4.
Jack Koras provided an early second half push for Maryland just 32 seconds in, as the junior midfielder scored from right in front of the crease. But senior attacker Payton Cormier secured a hat trick to put the Cavaliers back up two less than two minutes later.
The Terps responded with two goals in a three-minute span courtesy of freshman attacker Braden Erksa, tying the score at seven at the 9:47 mark.
Graduate student midfielder Evan Zinn went coast-to-coast on Virginia’s eighth goal of the day a minute later, but Maryland face-off specialist Luke Wierman responded with a score of his own just five seconds later. The senior’s first goal of the season — and 10th of his career — kept the game tied midway through the third quarter.
Maryland’s hot quarter continued as junior attacker Owen Murphy found the back of the net on an overhead shot — his fifth-straight game with a goal — to give Maryland a 9-8 lead at the 5:19 mark. Koras struck just over two minutes later to extend the Terps’ lead to two.
Graduate student midfielder Thomas McConvey notched his fourth hat trick of the season with just three seconds left in the quarter on a diving score just in front of the crease to trim the Cavaliers’ deficit to one entering the fourth.
Koras registered a hat trick to open the fourth quarter scoring and freshman midfielder Eric Kolar scored for the first time in his collegiate career just 11 seconds later to give Maryland a 12-9 lead at the 13:14 mark.
[Maryland men’s lacrosse showed improved offensive efficiency against Albany]
Redshirt senior attacker Xander Dickson — who entered the day with the second-most goals in the country — got his first of the day less than a minute later to halt Maryland’s momentum for a moment.
After nearly a nine-minute scoring drought from both sides, sophomore attacker Griffin Schutz capitalized on a feed from redshirt junior attacker Connor Shellenberger to bring Virginia within one, 12-11 with 3:41 left.
Koras’ fourth goal of the day a minute later gave Maryland some cushion, but Shellenberger connected at the 1:56 mark to keep the Cavaliers down only one. McConvey struck for the fourth time in the game just 38 seconds later to tie the game at 13 apiece.
Wierman scored after winning the ensuing face-off, but the goal was waved off as Tillman called a timeout just before Wierman sent the shot off his stick.
“It’s one of those things where when you make that decision, people only see the end,” Tillman said.
The battle went into overtime as a result.
Ruppel made three phenomenal saves with Maryland’s back against the wall, and the Kelly game-winner that followed gave the Terps a thrilling victory over the Cavaliers.
‘Thanks for bailing me out,” Tillman joked to Kelly and Ruppel after the game.